Chongwe River Camp

Reviews of Chongwe River Camp

Excellent(95%) From 76 travellers
Excellent
59
Good
14
Average
3
Poor
0
Terrible
0
Below are independent comments from 76 of our travellers who have visited Chongwe River Camp, and have kindly agreed to share their thoughts.

They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Mr & Mrs D - Leicester
Arrived on: 4-Oct-2011 Stayed for: 4 nights
Overall:
Excellent
Excellent
Location:
Excellent
Excellent
Rooms:
Excellent
Excellent
Service:
Excellent
Excellent
Food:
Good
Good
Activities:
Excellent
Excellent
Facilities:
Excellent
Excellent

Chongwe River Camp review

Mercifully tsetse free. Great position on the Chongwe river.

Extremely friendly and helpful staff. Only leopard sightings of the whole trip!

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Mr & Mrs G - Sweden
Arrived on: 24-Jul-2011 Stayed for: 1 nights
Overall:
Excellent
Excellent
Location:
Excellent
Excellent
Rooms:
Excellent
Excellent
Service:
Excellent
Excellent
Food:
Good
Good
Activities:
Excellent
Excellent
Facilities:
Excellent
Excellent

Stunningly situated at Zambesi

We had a very nice evening drive with Patrik, he had a very good sense of finding nice spots for sundowner or lookouts for wildlife. Next morning Patrik drove half way to Old Mondoro, through the park. The scenery partly outstanding.

At the end we came upon a pride of some 11 lions, we also came across a rather big male elephant that wanted to tell us that he owned the "road".

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Mr & Mrs G - Sweden
Arrived on: 22-Jul-2011 Stayed for: 1 nights
Overall:
Excellent
Excellent
Location:
Excellent
Excellent
Rooms:
Excellent
Excellent
Service:
Excellent
Excellent
Food:
Good
Good
Activities:
Excellent
Excellent
Facilities:
Excellent
Excellent

Stunningly situated at Zambesi

The first evening we went out for an evening cruise, very odd feeling after more than 10 days in the bush. We had a very nice evening with a French couple, who hardly spoke any english. As we speak French we had no problem and we had indeed a very interesting evening. In most of the camps (apart from Remote Africa) the evening conversation was a social event and not very interesting.

Very relaxing camp. The atmosphere of the lodge was very much family like, something we appreciated. We were picked up for a short, very short drive to a leopard chewing away on a baboon. The red light did not seem to bother her at all.

To wake up in the morning with the raising sun shining into the tent listening to all the birds was an experience never to be forgotten.

The food lacked a bit of imagination.

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Dr & Mr G - Bangor, Wales
Arrived on: 11-Jul-2011 Stayed for: 4 nights
Overall:
Excellent
Excellent
Location:
Excellent
Excellent
Rooms:
Excellent
Excellent
Service:
Excellent
Excellent
Food:
Excellent
Excellent
Activities:
Excellent
Excellent
Facilities:
Excellent
Excellent

Chongwe River Camp review

Chongwe River camp had a very special atmosphere - relaxed, friendly and very Zen if that doesn't sound too pretentious! There is such a lot lot of wildlife and birds that you can see and hear just sitting quietly in the camp, that you feel that you're amongst it all from the word go. It's in a beautiful setting on the confluence of the Chongwe and the Zambezi, and with good binoculars you can even watch elephants on the Zimbabwe shore.

The river trips,including canoeing and fishing, add an extra dimension to the safari., and watching the sun set with a sundowner on a boat on the Zambezi is sublime! Great guides, great staff and a fabulous place all round.

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Mr & Mrs L from Massachusetts
Arrived on: 7-Jul-2011 Stayed for: 3 nights
Overall:
Excellent
Excellent
Location:
Excellent
Excellent
Rooms:
Good
Good
Service:
Excellent
Excellent
Food:
Good
Good
Activities:
Excellent
Excellent
Facilities:
Good
Good

Chongwe River Camp review

Very personal service and it worked out that we had our own guide, Chris, for our three three days. The team of guides worked together to provide a great safari experience in finding various animals. The camp staff was very friendly and accommodating. Nice touches such as greeting the jeep on return from a safari drive with wet towels.

The camp schedule was not rigid, and one day we opted to stay out on safari and have lunch by one the many lagoons in the Lower Zambezi Park.

The location of the camp provided a great view of the Chongwe river, and a boat ride on the river onto the Zambezi at sunset provided an interesting break from the jeep rides with an opportunity to get close to the hippos and crocodiles along the bank.

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Mr & Mrs S from Cambridge
Arrived on: 17-Oct-2010 Stayed for: 4 nights
Overall:
Good
Good
Location:
Excellent
Excellent
Rooms:
Excellent
Excellent
Service:
Excellent
Excellent
Food:
Good
Good
Activities:
Average
Average
Facilities:
Good
Good

Chongwe River Camp review

Beautiful setting, comfortable camp. However we were a little disappointed with some of the activities. The guides were good, but on each of our excursions (except two within the park when a park guard came with us) we were accompanied by only by the guide and we did not have a guard as well, as we had had at the previous camp. This made a difference to the amount of wildlife spotted - impossible for the guide to be concentrating on the driving as well as the spotting.

More importantly, I also felt that the camp was a bit slack about safety. On one evening float trip on the Zambezi, our sundowners on an island in the middle of the river were followed by engine failure. The radio did not work so there was no way of summoning help. The boat was equipped with but a single paddle, not enough to propel a boat of that weight. As darkness fell, our guide heroically jumped into the thigh deep water and waded for 10 minutes towards the Zambian bank, pulling the boat behind him. Then in the darkness he shouted for help in the hope that someone might hear. Luckily they did and a relief boat was sent from the sister lodge. fortunately the other 2 guests and I were pretty unflappable. But I was VERY unhappy that the guide should have felt obliged to put himself at risk by jumping into water which we knew to be crocodile infested.

When we related this story to the camp manager, she was quite unconcerned. I think the management did not take it as an opportunity to assess the risks and act on risk managment e.g. simple measures like having an adequate number of paddles and punt poles in each boat. Is engine failure a rare occurrence? Not in our experience - it happened again the next day. The camp manager told us a story of some French guests getting very upset last year when their vehicle broke down on a night drive in the park, again I felt her point was that they were unreasonably bothered by this.

On this type of holiday, one should expect the unexpected to happen. What I would also expect is an appropriate response from management to minimise the rsik of recurrence. This and a few other very minor events made us think that at this camp the emphasis was on style rather than substance.

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Expert Africa comments

We sent these comments to Chongwe’s owner, Chris Liebenberg, who was very sorry that these travellers felt uncomfortable about aspects of their trip to Chongwe. Chris ordered a full investigation, receiving reports from both the guide and the other couple on the same excursion. He comments:

“I’m really sorry if these travellers felt at risk, as I don’t think they ever were. Let me comment at these issues separately:

1. The evening boat trip
Two couples took this afternoon boat trip on the Zambezi River. They stopped on a sand bank for sundowners but when they were ready to leave Victor, the guide, couldn’t start the engine. It was getting dark, so Victor radioed the closest camp, Kasaka (which is also Chongwe’s sister camp) for assistance. Once that was organised, he also radioed Chongwe to tell the manager that assistance was being organised by Kasaka. At one stage, still trying to resurrect the motor, Victor pushed the boat away from the sandy island and into the current, where the water was deep enough to lower the motor into. It still wouldn’t start! Thus he paddled back to the sandy island, and jumped out into the shallow water to hold the boat from drifting. Victor is a fully-qualified guide; he knows this river very well. He’s told me clearly that at no stage did he put himself, or these travellers, in any danger.

Because Kasaka were not expecting to need a boat that afternoon, it took time for them to get one ready and launched. Whilst waiting, Victor spotted some of Kasaka’s staff fishing from the bank, and he asked them for an update on progress; the ‘rescue’ boat from Kasaka arrived shortly afterwards.

2. An unconcerned camp manager
Florence the camp manager would have appeared unconcerned as there wasn’t ever anyone in real danger. She was unaware that these travellers felt unhappy about the excursion. I’m really sorry that she didn’t realise this, as if she had then I’m sure she would have done her best to put their minds at rest. Florence would never have made light of a serious situation; she and the rest of my team at Chongwe River Camp take safety very seriously indeed, as our 16 year long track record will attest.

3. A second engine failure?
The following day, another guide (Richman) took these same travellers out on another boat trip, and reported no motor boat breakdown. Outboard engines do sometimes take a while to start – and we can completely understand why travellers might think that one was ‘broken’. However, as usual, it did start eventually. No rescue or recovery was needed; Richman returned safely to camp with his travellers in the boat with the engine running.

I deeply regret any discomfort caused to these travellers – and as the result of their comments I’ve talked with our team to encourage them to explain to our travellers more about what’s happening, so that they understand more.

However, we are confident that our guide’s safety procedures are both up to scratch, and are being followed. The safety of our travellers, and our team, has always been - and always will be - Chongwe’s top priority; I’m sorry if our lack of explanations to these travellers didn’t get these across to them.”

Mr & Mrs W from Surrey
Arrived on: 18-Sep-2010 Stayed for: 3 nights
Overall:
Excellent
Excellent
Location:
Excellent
Excellent
Rooms:
Good
Good
Service:
Excellent
Excellent
Food:
Excellent
Excellent
Activities:
Excellent
Excellent
Facilities:
Good
Good

Chongwe River Camp review

Lovely location.

Game not as easy to see as at Luangwa but enjoyed river activities

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Mr H from Bristol
Arrived on: 8-Sep-2010 Stayed for: 3 nights
Overall:
Excellent
Excellent
Location:
Excellent
Excellent
Rooms:
Excellent
Excellent
Service:
Excellent
Excellent
Food:
Good
Good
Activities:
Good
Good
Facilities:
Good
Good

Chongwe River Camp review

Fantastic location - we enjoyed the variety of boat & drives and the different terrain from South Luangwa.

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Mr & Mrs B from Buckinghamshire
Arrived on: 4-Aug-2010 Stayed for: 3 nights
Overall:
Good
Good
Location:
Excellent
Excellent
Rooms:
Excellent
Excellent
Service:
Excellent
Excellent
Food:
Good
Good
Activities:
Good
Good
Facilities:
Good
Good

A camp of two halves

There is no doubt that the accommodation we had in the Cassia suite was superb, way beyond luxury though given the price we thought that we might have been given more choice for example on the food. There was no choice of menu. This is not to say that what we had was poor, the opposite in fact, it was excellent but we had what we were given.

Whilst the inital welcome was warm it was not very informative for example about what choices we had on activities other than we knew we could not have a dedicated vehicle which we had not expected anyway.

Joseph our butler was such a lovely man who could not do enough to make our stay a happy one. Never having had a butler before we almost felt guilty in asking him to do things for us.

The view of the river was beautiful though when the Hippo start calling just after three in the morning you may wish for a room futher up the Chongwe river. In its brochure the camp prides itself on organising things round you not the needs of the camp. In fact we found the opposite. In part this was a factor of being in the self contained Cassia suite at the opposite end of the camp to the general dining area. This meant we did hear about what was going on. Communication, particularly about activities, was not good. The issues were raised with Florence (Flossie) and she did respond as best she could given the circumstances. This was meant to be the highlight of the holiday for us but apart from the accommodation, it fell short of the expectations.

We had some wonderful Lion sightings of three males but apart from this the volume of wildlife was low with several "very quiet" drives. The park itself is very varied and has some really beautiful habitat. Guest should be prepared though for a 20 min or so very bumpy ride up into the park as it is on the opposite side of the chongwe river to the camp.

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The D Family - Ontario, Canada
Arrived on: 9-Nov-2009 Stayed for: 3 nights
Overall:
Excellent
Excellent
Location:
Excellent
Excellent
Rooms:
Excellent
Excellent
Service:
Excellent
Excellent
Food:
Excellent
Excellent
Activities:
Excellent
Excellent
Facilities:
Excellent
Excellent

Chongwe River Camp was wonderful

This was an amazing place to stay. The staff and accomodations were excellent. It was in a very safari location to get the real Africa feeling.

We very much enjoyed this part of our trip.

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